Charles didn’t like playing football. Or more specifically, he didn’t like playing it at school. It was because no matter how hard he’d tried, the older kids would always be faster and better than him.
He was just sitting on a bench, watching others play. He knew most of the boys at least by sight, but among them there was one he’d never seen before. He was tall, definitely taller than Charles, and skinny. And there was something intriguing about him.
Charles watched the boy for a while, but couldn’t figure out what it was about. Maybe he was just bored and wanted a distraction, so his mind made this strange feeling up.
“Why aren’t you playing?” he heard his sister’s voice. Raven sat next to him and started waving her legs, which annoyed him a little.
“I don’t feel like,” he said, hoping she’d go away.
When he looked back at the pitch, he noticed the new boy was gone. Charles tried looking for him and after a while he was sure that the boy had disappeared. It seemed weird, but he didn’t really put a lot of thought into it. In fact, he even forgot about the boy during his next few classes.
But then, when he was leaving school, he saw the boy again. Charles really tried not to stare at him, but couldn’t help. He was sitting alone under a tree and even though Charles knew it was a terribly bad idea and that he should look for his sister and go home, he found himself going towards the boy. Getting closer, he noticed a bruise on boy’s cheek which, he was sure, wasn’t there when he’d seen him before.
He had probably gotten into a fight with someone, thought Charles. Suddenly he felt afraid of talking to this boy, but it was too late to go away now — he’d come too close.
“Hi.” His voice was really quiet and for a while, he wasn’t sure if the boy’d heard him but then he raised his head, confused a little.
Charles felt really stupid. He didn’t know what to say, what to do and honestly just wanted to run away.
After a closer look, the boy seemed to be a few years older, he could be around fifteen, and definitely didn’t look like a person who’d want to be Charles’ friend or even talk to him.
“I’m Charles,” he said, really nervous now. “Are you new here?”
“Yeah, I’ve moved in few weeks ago. I’m Erik.”
It wasn’t that bad, thought Charles, who had expected the boy wouldn’t even look at him twice and probably just laugh at him.
“I could show you some places, if you wanna see the town.”
Charles didn’t want to say that. In fact, he’d never expect himself to do that. He usually wasn’t brave enough to talk to older kids and even though he was mostly liked by his peers, he didn’t really care about making new friends.
He expected Erik to laugh or be rude, but, surprisingly, the boy smiled.
“I’d love that, thanks.”
Charles smiled back, uncertainly. He stood there for few more seconds and then started turning around.
“Charles.” Erik’s voice stopped him. He looked at the boy again, ready for the worst. “Why? Why did you choose to talk to me?”
Charles hesitated. He wasn’t really sure what to say — he didn’t even understand why he’d done this. He shrugged his shoulders.
“You just looked pretty lonely.”
Erik smiled again, but this time there was something nostalgic about it.
“I was,” he said “But, umm… I guess I’ve just always been alone.”
Charles couldn’t really explain that, but he felt this sudden, weird connection with this boy. As if he’d known him at heart forever, just waiting to finally meet him in person.
“Well, you are not alone anymore, Erik. You are not alone.”